I'd heard that once a kid starts preschool, the whole family gets sick...a lot. And that's certainly been the case around here this winter. No matter how often I wash my hands, toddlers aren't exactly cautious when it comes to spreading their germs. I feel terrible for Sloan when she has a cold or cough, but I relish in the opportunity to take care of her (and happily soak up the extra cuddles). Here are some of the ways that we combat sickness in our house, relying on several of the tried-and-true methods my own mom used on me.
Sleep is always important, but even more so when your kid is sick. We typically abide by a pretty strict regimen at night, making sure Sloan is in bed by around 7:00 pm (which means she gets about 11 hours of sleep). When she's not feeling well, we try to be a little more flexible, encouraging multiple naps and plenty of rest. Since she still has a tendency to move all over the bed (and not remain nestled under her covers), occasionally I'll put her in a sleep sack to make sure she doesn't get chilly.
When I was little, I found comfort in the routines my mom created when I was sick. At the first sign of a cold or cough, she'd bring the humidifier into my room, prop pillows under my mattress, and rub Vicks VapoRub on my chest. The smell is so nostalgic—as well as the feeling of relief it brought by quickly reducing my cough. If I could create a cold medicine for her, it would look a lot like this one, since it's safe, topical, and fast-acting. It also lasts for eight hours, which means she and I both are able to get some much-needed sleep. Now that Sloan's old enough to use it (it's for kids two-years and older), I like knowing that I'm not only helping make her more comfortable, but also passing along the same soothing treatments my mom used on me.
Any healthy habit that involves your toddler's participation makes it that much more appealing to them. While Sloan has been reluctant to embrace vegetables (if you only knew the amount of songs I now sing about them in hopes of swaying her), she loves fruit and is enthusiastic about squeezing her orange juice each morning. She loves being involved and it makes me happy to know she's getting a good dose of Vitamin C.
I remember watching my mom from my bed when she'd bring in the family's humidifier and set it up when I had a cough. We do the same for Sloan and just like her orange juice, we even let her help by turning it on before bed. The increase in air moisture eases the symptoms of her cold while she sleeps.
Like me, Sloan loves a bath, especially when she has a cold. It provides much-needed relief and helps her transition for bedtime. I close the door so that it gets nice and steamy and occasionally add essential oils to the water that help clear her sinuses.
It's hard for most two-year-olds to understand why they can't go outside and run around when they're sick. To keep Sloan from getting too stir crazy, I keep a stash of craft supplies, stickers, and new coloring books so that she's excited and engaged anytime I bring them out. We also become much more lenient with our 'no tv during the week' rule because I find that if she's lying down and resting, often times it will also lead to much-needed (unscheduled) naps.
When I'm sick, nothing is appealing about having a kale salad—all I want is warm comfort foods: chicken soup, raisin toast with butter, etc. But I also understand the importance of eating things that are nutrient-dense that will help me get better. I follow the same protocol when it comes to Sloan and allow her the same simple foods I crave, but also sneak things like fresh fruit and spinach into her smoothies.
One of the things I've learned as a mom is that, when you feel something is off, trust your instincts. There's so much information out there that it can be overwhelming trying to sort through it all. And while it's always important to be informed, take comfort in the fact that you know your child best. You'll recognize red flags right away, but the common cold is just that, common. Try not to worry about every sniffle, it'll pass in time.
I'd love to hear: Moms, what do you do for your kids when they're sick and coughing? Share your tips in the comments, below!